Home & Garden

Who Wants a Free 18th-Century Log Home?

The barn and house at issue on the 43-acre Bishop tract on E. Orvilla Road in Hatfield Township, now owned by Keystone Community Fellowship Church, of Montgomery Township. Credits: Tony Di Domizio

 If you’re in the market for an 18th-Century log home – you are in luck.

Keystone Community Fellowship Church, of Montgomery Township,  has such a home sitting on a 43-acre property at 3100 Orvilla Road in Hatfield Township, a property that they wish to rezone from Limited Industrial to Institutional to build a new church, ballfield and open space. The church purchased the property for $2 million in 2008 from the Estate of Richard Bishop, whose executor was Daniel Bishop.

The house, however, is rapidly deteriorating, according to Daniel Cardone, business administrator for the church, and Pastor John Cope, who went on the record as such during a public hearing on the rezoning request at Wednesday’s Hatfield Township Commissioners meeting.

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“Time is not on our side with that house,” Cardone said.

The property was purchased in 1760 by the family of Rev. John Funk, according to Cardone. The house was built shortly thereafter in 1765. At one point, the Funks, who were Mennonite, broke off and formed the Funkite religion.

The historic value of the home was discovered during a recent attempted preservation of the property by Hartland Demolition, who was hired to restore and preserve the house, according to Cardone.

“We looked at options to renovate it for offices, but the costs are astronomical,” Cardone said. “I believe the house is less than 3,000 square feet, and we occupy about 6,500 square feet of office space. For an office, that doesn’t make sense. There was an idea to use it for a coffeehouse, but it’s way off site from the main building. It doesn’t make sense for us.”

Of the choices to have someone preserve it elsewhere, to have someone incorporate it into a design elsewhere or to have the house cataloged and disassembled for preservation, the church committee favors the third choice.

“We contacted people already to say, ‘Are you interested in taking the house?’ Long story short: They say they love it, but they can’t,” Cardone said. “If someone says, ‘I love it, I’ll take it,’ they can move it, it’s theirs. We’re not selling it.”

 The cataloging and storing would be done at the church’s expense.

”Unfortunately, the aspect with the house is, if we go through another winter, we are not serving it justice and the integrity of what’s there,” Cardone said. “If we preserve the integrity of the materials, we can catalog and disassemble before winter hits us.”

Marc Davis, the church’s attorney, said at the hearing, as an answer to Commissioner Scott Brown, that his client did not have an archaeologist yet catalog the grounds as a historical site.

“We are willing to cooperate. We are not aware of anything,” Davis said. “The preservationist did not mention (artifacts around the home).”

Commissioner Bob Rodgers asked Cardone if anyone had approached Keystone Community Fellowship to work with them in preserving the property. Cardone said no one has approached the church.

“We’ve approached numerous townships and private parties to see if they were interested in the house. People are interested, but, obviously, when they look at the price tag, they are not interested,” Cardone said.

Davis said if anyone comes to the church and says they want the house, they can take it.

“We will work with them on it. We will arrange to move it. It’s unequivocal if someone wants to take it, we’re all for it,” Davis said. “The roof is starting to leak. It still has integrity, but it’s a mess. It won’t last long.”

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